First Place: 2022 Bird Portrait Contest

Calliope Hummingbird

Dustin Huntington won first place in BirdWatching’s 2022 Bird Portrait Contest with this remarkable image of a Calliope hummingbird he photographed from the patio of his home in Tijeras, New Mexico.

“I had set up to photograph the various hummingbirds up close in the morning light,” says Huntington. “The birds were very tolerant of the camera and allowed a close approach. This Calliope was at a feeder the ants had discovered, and two had apparently increased its bill by feeding. At the time, I didn’t even see the ants and was just concentrating on taking a picture of the bird. When I uploaded the photos I realized the ants had taken this from another hummingbird photo to something special. I don’t know who was more surprised: the ants to be in flight or the hummingbird of its unexpected passengers.

Editor Brian E. Small, one of our judges, said, “The wonderful photo was the clear winner for me. I like both its simplicity and its thoroughness. And, of course, the two ants on his beak make him special above all others. The image is beautifully composed, well lit and has incredible detail. I always recognize a winning photo when it’s the one I would have liked to take. Good game!”

Huntington took the photo with a Sony A9 and a Sony 100-400mm lens. Exposure data: 1/800 at f/8, ISO 500.

Follow Dustin on Flickr

Many thanks to our panel of guest judges: editors Laura Erickson, Pete Dunne and Brian E. Small; professional photographer Marie Read; Outdoor photographer editors Dan Havlik and Kristan Ashworth; And Imagery resource editors William Brawley and Jeremy Gray.

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See the second place winner

See the third place winner

See the finalists